In the week and change since Elden Ring’s launch, conversations about its difficulty have run the same, tired course as those concerning all its FromSoftware predecessors. The biggest point of contention seems to lie with the player’s inability to pause the game, but it turns out you can pause Elden Ring, no mods required. It just takes a bit of finessing.
As noted by Iron Pineapple, who runs a great YouTube channel dedicated to Elden Ring, Dark Souls, and other Souls-like games, brave Tarnished who need a break but can’t fast travel to a checkpoint can simply navigate to their inventory and ask the game to explain its menus. Much like Elden Ring’s early tutorials, this freezes the world around you, keeping you safe from whatever jerks are currently trying to slice you into ribbons.
Elden Ring, for better or worse, is a continuation of the legacy FromSoftware established in 1994’s King’s Field and then officially made Its Whole Thing with 2009’s Demon’s Souls. Despite arriving amid a sea of tutorial-heavy, open-world adventures, Elden Ring doesn’t hold your hand. It gives very little indication of how anything works, opting instead to let you figure that out on your own. As such, newcomers are bound to bash their heads against its tough exterior.
The lack of a pause option, however, is a little different. While most complaints about FromSoftware’s formula make me roll my eyes, I understand where folks are coming from when they say they’d love a way to take an immediate break from the action. And it’s not like FromSoftware is completely averse to such a feature, either: 2019’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, arguably the most difficult game in the studio’s modern lineup, allowed players to pause whenever they liked. It can be done.
Of course, all of this goes out the window as soon as multiplayer is involved, but come on, FromSoftware. Let folks pause Elden Ring without jumping through all these hoops. Your games—and really, life in general—are difficult enough to grasp as it is.